Monster Yamaha Tech3 crew chief Nicolas Goyon has had a revolving door of riders since Jonas Folger's sudden withdraw from last October's Japanese MotoGP.

Just three months earlier the pair had been celebrating Folger's brilliant ride to second place in his home German Grand Prix.

Initially it was reported that the severe fatigue issues cited for Folger's exit had been successfully identified and treated over the winter.

But then came the bombshell news, just a week before Folger's scheduled return at January's Sepang test, that the young German would not be coming back.

"What can we do? Nothing. So at some stage you just kill yourself if you keep thinking about it," said Goyon, making a gesture of twisting a knife in his stomach.

"When I really realised it was over and Jonas would not return, I tried to forget. It's a big shame, he has great talent but he has an issue somewhere. Probably a mental issue. And this is important, the mental side."

Some form of anxiety or mental stress is increasingly suspected as the trigger for Folger's issues, with Goyon adding:

"MotoGP riders are all Lions. They are all fighters. If you are not one of them, that's it. You are out of the game. It's a big shame because he had a great talent, he did some incredibly things and we had a wonderful year.

"But if we want to go forward, we have to forget the past and focus on the future."

The long road leading to Folger's 2018 replacement began with three stand-in riders for the final four rounds of last year - Kohta Nozane, Broc Parkes and Michael van der Mark respectively - then Yonny Hernandez at the Sepang test and finally Hafizh Syahrin for Buriram.

Working with a constant stream of riders is no easy task, but it wasn't all bad.

"The good thing is on the human point of view, we've met some good guys," said Goyon, sitting in a temporary team 'cabin' on Saturday at the Thailand test. "Michael van der Mark is a really good guy, we had some good fun with him.

"The last test with Yonny Hernandez, he is also a really good guy. When I knew that we would not go ahead with him, I was disappointed for him because he put everything into the test.

"He really believed he could have the seat, but in the end it's a sport and you have to beat the others. Probably Yonny had a talent a little bit lower than Hafizh, so it's a shame but it's sport.

"So we met some great guys, we had some good fun. Hafizh is my sixth rider in seven events. I hope this is the last one and that we focus on Hafizh.

"Of all the riders we've had since the end of last season and the riders we could have had for this season, for me Hafizh is the best.

"The potential is higher and at the moment he's the best, so for me personally - just on the sports point of view, with the talent - for me he should be the number one."

Syahrin, a triple podium finisher in Moto2, was duly confirmed as getting the 2018 Tech3 seat alongside Johann Zarco shortly after the Buriram test.

Speaking generally, Goyon feels that Moto2 riders can take a little longer than Superbike riders to find their feet in MotoGP, but their ultimate potential is higher.

"In the past I worked with Pol Espargaro, Jonas Folger and some others. The Moto2 rider starts from a little bit further [back] because they are not used to such a heavy and powerful bike, but in my experience the Moto2 rider has more margin to progress. Maybe straight away a WorldSBK rider is more close, but then to reach the top it takes more time."

That is also partly down to age.

"The Moto2 riders I've worked with were also younger. When you're younger, you are more adaptable. The experience we had in Tech3 with superbike riders - I personally worked with Toseland, Spies, Crutchlow - it's a little bit different.

"Especially now that the level in Moto2 is so high, all these guys are so competitive. When they switch - maybe it takes a little bit more time - but the talent is slightly higher than a superbike rider."

Syahrin was ranked 24th, last and 2.368s from the top after his first day on a MotoGP bike. He then reduced that gap to 2.029s (23rd) on day two, when he suffered his only fall of the test, and went on to finish day three in 21st position, 1.756s from the top.

"We didn't really know what to expect with Hafizh," Goyon admitted. "But he is a really nice guy and surprised us on the track."

'The Yamaha style is Jorge Lorenzo'

"When you have a new rider, you ask for a lot of change. Especially a rider coming from Moto2. Everything is different. You need to get the Yamaha style as soon as possible because otherwise you struggle," Goyon explained.

And although he left Yamaha at the end of 2016, Jorge Lorenzo's style remains the benchmark for how an M1 needs to be ridden.

"We had Pol Espargaro and we all know that Pol struggled a lot with the Yamaha style," Goyon said. "The Yamaha style, for everybody, you have to understand, is Jorge Lorenzo. That is still the number one in Yamaha for the style. He is the target.

"So a new rider he has to match this style: Smooth, with the bike not moving [sliding] and this is our target as soon as we have a new rider. We want him to reproduce this, because this is the way to ride this bike."

How is Hafizh progressing with that task?

"That is where he surprised us, because he was able to change quite a few things. And we have asked a lot of him, trust me. He doesn't do everything together, but we see some 'lights' and we have to say since he first jumped on the bike he made some huge progress.

"Unfortunately we had this small crash today [day two], which is a complete beginner crash. But otherwise I still think we could have improved further.

"There were some really good things, like every exit he improved his lap time from the run before. This is really positive and not something that you see with all riders.

"So yes we are a little bit surprised at the moment in the garage. The question mark now is the margin he has to reach the top. But at the moment he has made some big improvements."

Where do you begin?

Let's rewind a bit. A new rider walks into your team, in this case a rookie who has never ridden a MotoGP bike before, you say 'hello'... then what?

"We say 'Welcome, we're going to work together at least at this test' and then we just do our job," replied Goyon.

"We give him advice, listen to him, we check the data, we compare - everybody knows that in Yamaha we have the great chance to access the factory data, so we check Valentino, we check Maverick, we check Zarco who is with us.

"So we have three top riders in Yamaha. Hafizh is the newcomer, so for him it's really easy to see where he needs to improve. We check and tell him what he has to do, sometimes he succeeds, sometimes not, so we try to help him when he fails and go step-by-step like this."

No rider coach, no filming…

The very best in MotoGP now having dedicated 'rider coaches' to watch trackside and provide feedback on how they might improve.

An extension of this is bespoke camera footage, where a team member films parts of the track for their rider to watch and analyse later.

Both take on an even more important role in testing where, unlike at a grand prix, there is no live TV footage to review.

For Syahrin's debut, Goyon and Tech3 were left to 'trust the data' plus some visual feedback from Zarco's manager.

"It's true and when you are more famous and when you have more money or whatever you have a ['rider coach']. In Yamaha, Vinales has Wilco and Valentino has Cadalora. More and more riders have someone to watch and advise them. I believe it's a big, big help.

"Some other teams like LCR they have a guy who [films trackside] and organises some video sessions and this is really, really helpful to the riders. I know Marquez watches this quite a lot as well.

"Unfortunately we have nobody at the moment, so we trust the data.

"The only guy who has given us some tips and advice from watching trackside is Laurent Fellon, Zarco's manager. What he said was really accurate, because it was exactly what we saw on the data, and some little tips that Hafizh still has the Moto2 style.

"A MotoGP bike you have to brake very late, very strong, turn quickly and pick up the bike as early as possible and use the power to accelerate. Moto2 is completely different. You roll into the corner, let the bike turn and accelerate.

"So he still has this little style. But we are working on it."

'We have to accelerate everything'

Syahrin's late arrival means the 23-year-old Malaysian has already missed out on eight days of winter testing. After Thailand, he now has just three more days at the Qatar test before starting his first premier-class grand prix.

"There's a lot of things to discover in MotoGP. You have the electronics, you have the tyres, you have the carbon brakes… And inside the electronics you have many different areas like the engine braking, the traction control, the anti-wheelie, so the program is huge," Goyon said.

"I normally try to let the rider discover step-by-step, playing with one thing at a time. But we don't have time to do that.

"Now we only have six days [Thailand and Qatar tests] to get ready for the season. We try to accelerate everything. We see if he responds well, and try something more. If it's too much, then okay we slow down.

"We try to work with the set-up a little bit earlier than I normally do and we’ve already tried different tyres, where normally for a rider's first test I would have used only one kind of tyre.

"What can we do? We can only try to accelerate a little bit the learning process. We won't be as ready as a normal incoming rider for the Qatar race, but we try to accelerate the process as much as he can understand."

'The electronics are so complex'

In terms of what is the hardest thing for a new rider like Syahrin to comprehend, Goyon is clear:

"The electronics are so complex. For example, I read yesterday that Valentino complained about the electronics. Valentino has so much experience with the electronics, he knows so much and it looks like they are facing some issue.

"The electronics are so complex that it’s probably going to be the last thing that we are going to give Hafizh to try. At the moment we are managing the electronics on our own, we give him what we think is good for him.

"Also, to try and give him some confidence, we are more in the way of working where we say, 'Okay, you ride the bike and try different lines and things. We will set-up the bike for you. Don’t worry. If you have a problem, we will fix it'.

"Then also for him this is a way to forget the set-up of the bike and focus on the riding, because in the end the riding is probably 80% of the job.

"So he has to focus so much on the riding and we try to solve the small problems he has for him, and with the electronics we do everything on our own at the moment."

Crew chief: Calm, control, in charge

A crew chief is the person through which a rider communicates with his team and mechanics.

To avoid any confusion during a track session, a rider generally only talks to the crew chief. The crew chief is then responsible for converting the rider's words into technical changes to be carried out by the mechanics and engineers.

"Normally a rider does not talk to the mechanics about the bike, unless the bike is broken," Goyon confirmed. "I try to be in charge of the set-up and all these things, so I collect all the information and normally if the rider has anything to ask about the bike he has to go to the crew chief."

But just as important as the technical changes is the psychology; trying to keep the rider in the optimum frame of mind in stressful circumstances.

"I always try to put myself in the rider's seat - what would the rider expect from his team and his crew chief to be in the best position?" Goyon said. "I would expect my crew chief to be very calm in 'hot' conditions, like when the situation is changing, for example rain on the grid.

"If the rider is sitting there and can see everyone panicking around him then it's very stressful. Even if I'm not, I try to show that we are fully in control. I want the rider to know we can control it, we have a method and we will fix whatever the problem is.

"The message I want to get across is 'Don't worry: You ride and we are in charge of everything else'"

'It's a 2017 Yamaha...'

While team-mate Zarco has switched back to the 2016 chassis, on which the 2018 factory machine is also based, Syahrin is currently on a 2017 bike.

However which version is a mystery even to his team.

"It's from last year, but they had so many different versions," Goyon said. "It's one of the versions Valentino had last year. It's what Tech3 were supposed to have for this year, while Johann is playing a little bit more with a different version."

Syahrin and Goyon will start their second test together at the Losail Circuit, in Qatar on March 1.

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